In September 2016, gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd and his wife Jenny donated a quarter of a million dollars to Conexion Americas, a non-profit Latino advocacy organization headquartered in Nashville founded by Renata Soto.
A letter signed by Soto described the “historic investment” as “the single largest individual gift” to her organization in its 14-year history. Boyd made the donation while he was serving as the Haslam-appointed Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development. He resigned from his post as commissioner in January, and announced several days ago that he will run for governor in 2018.
The Tennessee Star asked the Boyd campaign to confirm the $250,000 donation, but received no response prior to publication deadline.
Soto and Boyd met when they were both enrolled in the 2013 inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee, a 10-month leadership education program hosted by Lipscomb University. The program was founded and is funded in part by The Haslam Foundation, Haslam family’s Flying Pilot J, the Hyde Family Foundation and the Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville, whose board at one time included Haslam. Cathy Cate is the executive director of Leadership Tennessee. Her husband Mark served as the governor’s chief of staff during Haslam’s first term.
The Boyds’ donation was celebrated on Leadership Tennessee’s facebook page:
“In 2013 Renata Soto and Randy Boyd joined the inaugural class. Now, three years later, because of connections made over the course of a year traveling the state, Randy and his wife Jenny have made a contribution to Conexion Americas that will be felt for many years. Congratulations all!”
The same month Boyd was gifting money to Soto’s organization, he founded and now chairs the board of Complete Tennessee, an education advocacy organization focused on increasing postsecondary graduation rates in the state. Soto serves as a board member of Complete Tennessee.
In 2015, Soto was elected as chairman of the board of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), an organization generously funded by George Soros. She had previously served as vice-president for three years.
NCLR lobbies for Hispanic racial preferences, bilingual education, mass immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens. Their commentary and position statements characterize the U.S. as a nation with widespread white racism and discrimination. The organization has opposed most of the post 9/11 U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.
The NCLR pushed for passage of the federal “DREAM Act” and the “American Dream Act” that together, would have enabled states to provide in-state tuition for students who entered the U.S. illegally on their own or were brought here by an adult. The “DREAM Act” would have also allowed certain illegal immigrants to adjust their immigration status to legal permanent resident otherwise known as the “green card.”
Tennessee state legislators Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Mark White have reintroduced a bill that, if passed, will authorize college and university governing boards to decide which students are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates, including illegal immigrant students.
Soto’s Nashville-based organization Conexion Americas is a named NCLR affiliate. In December 2016, Soto became an “Indivisible” organizer as part of the campaign intended and designed to obstruct President Trump’s agenda for the nation including enforcing U.S. immigration laws.
Last year, state Democrat legislators Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Sen. Jeff Yarbro, introduced a joint resolution to honor Soto, which passed in the House but was pulled in the Senate before a vote could be taken, because some members were concerned about the NCLR and it’s position on illegal immigration.
During the 2016 presidential primary, Boyd was identified as an at-large delegate for Jeb Bush who supported an amnesty plan for illegal immigrants, explaining that even though the law is being violated, “[i]t’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Jed Bush and NCLR both supported the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill, which failed.